Thousands face winter in makeshift housing

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 July, 2012, 12:00am


Some of the displaced victims of the capital's worst rainstorm in 60 years will have to spend the harsh Beijing winter in makeshift homes that the local government is scrambling to build.

City authorities have designated 59 areas of the worst-hit Fangshan district for resettlement, and a total of 6,783 prefabricated rooms are currently under construction, The Beijing News reported yesterday. Rooms will be 20 square metres, and each family of an undisclosed size will reportedly get two rooms, while individuals will get one.

A total of 2,400 rooms were being built to last three years, including necessary insulation to provide protection during winter, but the remaining 4,383 were intended only to provide shelter for the next three months, the report said.

All of the makeshift homes are to be ready by Sunday, and they will feature access to fresh water and electricity. Residents, however, will have to share kitchens, toilets and showers with other residents of the prefab community.

Official statistics earlier said that about 73,000 homes in Fangshan were damaged in the July 21 flood that killed at least 77 people in Beijing. Many of those, however, suffered only minor damage, and some people with seriously damaged homes had relatives to stay with.

Cao Lei , from Fangshan's housing-and-construction committee, said residents whose homes could be repaired would be able to stay in the temporary units until November, when the government estimates it will be able to finish repairs. Mid-November is considered the start of winter, when the city government turns on subsidised heating.

'But those whose homes completely collapsed or cannot be repaired will have to spend the winter in the makeshift homes,' Cao was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

A resident of Nanbaidai village, in Fangshan's Zhangfang town, said her family had been informed that their home was too dangerous to live in and would be torn down very soon.

'We were told that we would have to stay in the makeshift home for about two years while the new buildings are constructed,' she said, declining to be named. 'I have no idea what the winter will be like.'

Architects said the long-term shelters were being built with thicker, better-insulating construction materials, but it was unclear how heating would be provided.

Meanwhile, Beijing's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has stepped up efforts to prevent epidemics caused by contaminated water. It has launched an alert system, requesting immediate notification when more than three people in a flooded area show symptoms of fever, diarrhoea or dermatitis.

The centre's director, Deng Ying , said their priority was to monitor drinking-water supplies, some of which were exposed and could become contaminated.


The number of people confirmed as killed by the flooding in the capital, which also damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of homes